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13 Expert Insights About Brand Experience

    What happens when you bring together three dynamic marketers for an exclusive deep dive into the impact of today on tomorrow’s vision and the future of brand experience?

    You get an event with the potential to transform how brand marketers navigate the future of their industry.

    CEMA partnered with FreemanXP to bring this to life with a powerhouse panel that included Hope Stone, Manager of Event Operations and Sponsorships, Atlassian; Jeanne Robb, Director of Global Corporate Events, Cisco; and Lenny Heymann Former EVP, UBM TechWeb.

    Collectively, the three panelists have over 50 years of experience in events and technology, making the panel a must-see for marketers looking to grow sponsorship revenue, enhance digital activations, and amplify brand experience.

    During the recent event in San Francisco, these industry leaders shared their perspective on what they experience, what challenges they face, and what excites them.

    1. Events are no longer just a moment in time. “We’re looking at giving a north star approach to some of our bigger events,” says Robb. “We’re making them more of a year-round program to continue that conversation.”

    2. Culture plays a big part. “Our events are also about the company as a whole,” says Stone. “So when you come to our events, you’re not just getting content about our products and tools and practices, but you’re getting to know who we are. We’re really trying to emulate our culture into our events.”

    3. Be where your audience is. It’s more effective to communicate with the tools your audience already uses, rather than trying to force them into new mediums. “We work with a broad range of industries,” states Heymann. “In the medical space, print still matters. In Asia, particularly with our shows in China, WhatsApp is how we communicate and build relationships.”

    4. Community counts. Stone notes that Atlassian already has a highly engaged community. Because the user program started organically with customers, they worked with that instead of building something new and trying to draw the crowd over.

    5. Bring people together online before the event. When Cisco was getting ready for a product launch, Robb and her team had people log on to Spark (a Slack-like chat platform) after signing up. This created buzz and conversation before, during, and after the event.

    6. Listen to newcomers. Prior to this same event, Cisco created a special Spark room for newcomers, monitored by the team. This gave newcomers a welcoming space in which to ask questions, and it also gave Cisco a wealth of information about this audience’s needs, which ended up shaping the event program.

    7. Keep it local. It’s important to let different regions have the power to modify campaigns and events for their own audiences, says Robb. “Our brand team is a global function, but if we hand China or Finland a campaign and tell them to do a direct translation, it might not work out as well as we thought. So, now it’s up to the region to say whether or not the campaign makes sense for them and to modify it as needed while still staying visually consistent with the brand.”

    8. Let your vendors show off. In the tech space, exhibitors have amazing new tools that they’re itching to show off, and giving them the space and ability to do so helps make the entire event more memorable. “One vendor was showcasing this whole virtual world. You weren’t just standing still with a headset, but were made to walk a plank and between the movement and the scenery. You got to really experience it,” remembers Robb.

    9. Prioritize smart choices. With larger companies, the team leading the event may not have as much say on budget as they’d like. Heymann claims, “Most of the budget, when you look at it as an event leader, is out of your control. So you have to make some really tough choices, get smarter, and select the choices that will make a real difference.”

    10. Data is king. “If we’re doing something, whether it’s technology-based or even a customer story, it has to mean something,” asserts Stone. “Things can’t just be there randomly.” Robb agrees, saying that everything is data driven, and if there’s no data behind an idea, it’ll be a tough sell to decision-makers.

    11. But, you need a data analyst. A company can gather up reams of data before, during, and after an event. But what then? Creating a clear track from event marketing to sales to customer service can be difficult, especially once the data hits multiple touchpoints. Stone recommends having a data analyst in the group; a person or team who can liaise between IT, Marketing, Sales, and the C-Suite, and who can turn spreadsheets of data into clear, identifiable, actionable information.

    12. Use measurement to understand customers. Heymann and the team at UBM understand the importance of understanding their audience. Whether it’s post-show surveys and NPS scores or working with other event professionals, they’re approaching event measurement from all angles to get a better read on their audience and create personas.

    13. The answer? Strategy: With tight budgets, an ever-present need to raise the bar, and reams of data to handle, event teams are being asked to do more than ever before, but often without the resources to match. All three panelists emphasized the importance of creating a strategy and making sure that activations and investments are scalable, repeatable, reusable, and justified by solid research into the potential ROI. That way, they can do the most with what they have, creating memorable brand experiences every time.

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